Collaboration between groups, IQR Consulting results in NonProfitEasy
[caption id="attachment_25946" align="alignleft" width="144" caption="Lomesh Shah at IQR Consulting put together a comprehensive management program for nonprofits"][/caption]
SANTA ROSA AND PETALUMA – The serendipitous meeting of two frustrated nonprofit executive directors led to the creation of a management program that they hope will sweep the small- to medium-sized nonprofit sector.
NonProfitEasy is funded partially by a grant from the Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County and mostly by IQR Consulting, a software development and analytical and technology consulting firm in Santa Rosa. It is being billed as the first affordably priced comprehensive system developed for and by nonprofits.
The timing couldn’t be better.
“This is a very rough period for all nonprofits, and the smaller ones are suffering the most,” said Lomesh Shah, co-founder and president of IQR. “They’ve had to cut paid staff, funding has all but dried up and demand for services has never been greater.”
Although he and his team of programmers set out to build a simple database that could manage donors, members and volunteers for two Petaluma organizations, the late-stage system in beta testing now manages many tasks.
“It’s the only one of its kind. I don’t care how many systems out there claim to manage a nonprofit,” said Val Richman, executive director of Mentor Me Petaluma, a school-based service for youngsters and teens who need extra adult support.
She researched the field and came up empty-handed.
“We called our office the Land of a Thousand Spreadsheets. But I refused to spend several thousand on a donor management system with a tiny component for volunteers and none for members and staff,” said Ms. Richman.
At a nonprofit conference she met Grayson James, executive director of Bounty Petaluma – a supplier of fresh food to food pantries and sustainability education to the community at large – and expressed her frustration.
He shared it.
“I was using a dozen different applications, and they didn’t talk to each other. Transferring data was expensive, time consuming and error-prone,” said Mr. Grayson.
Both he and Ms. Richman were dealing with smaller budgets and small, overworked staffs.
Envisioning software that would increase productivity instead of wasting time and energy, the two applied for a grant from Community Action Partnership, which was disbursing federal funds to expand local nonprofits, and won $16,000.
Both knew Mr. Shah from his work on the Minerva Project, an effort to bring together professional consultants with nonprofits. He agreed to collaborate on the software.
NonProfitEasy goes much further than managing donors, volunteers, potential donors and volunteers, paid staff, advisers and board members. It produces work schedules, newsletters, mailings, reports and graphs and an interactive website where volunteers can sign up and donors donate.
“It shows tremendous promise,” said Mr. Grayson, who is beta testing the program along with Mentor Me Petaluma, several Bay Area universities, a scholarship fund and a wildcat rescue group.
“We continue to add to its applications on a regular basis,” he said.